The why and how of becoming a cloud architect

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It's certainly not news. We've talked before about how learning OpenStack is a great way to kickstart an IT career. But just how valuable is it? And if you want to make the transition from doing traditional IT infrastructure administration to becoming a cloud architect, how do you get there?

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At the most recent OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, I attended a session put on by a panel of experts who were gathered to share their own experience in moving into the OpenStack space, how being an OpenStack architect differs from other infrastructure jobs, and what the job market looks like. So what was their take on the state of the industry?

Aaron Delp, Cloud Solutions Architect for SolidFire:

"How can people really get started, and where are the demands? The number one thing we hear over and over is [that] you can't find enough people in this space. And so, whether we're talking OpenStack, whether we're talking DevOps, whether we're talking Continuous Integration, the trend in this movement [is that] supply and demand is very skewed right now."

Eric Wright, System Architect at Raymond James:

"It's a movement. It's a change in the way that things are going... It really is a change in the way that we do things. And it's going to change the way that you do your job, and the way that you act in your business day to day."

Kenneth Hui, Technology Evangelist at Rackspace (now at EMC):

"I've been in the IT industry now for twenty-some odd years, and the closest thing I've seen to this kind of rush to find people was probably during the early days of the dotcom era."

Jason Grimm, Cloud Architect at Rackspace:

"[My] career path: Years of not a lot, and then when I found OpenStack, everything kind of changed, everything became more exciting, and more interesting. As I learned more about OpenStack, there were just doors opening and I was running into people that were interesting and who were doing interesting things"

There were a lot of take aways from this talk, and I highly recommend watching the full video. Here are some of the important lessons that might be worth considering as you develop your career and education strategies:

  • Jobs are moving up the stack. Positions open in the OpenStack ecosystem are different than they were a year ago. Whereas in the past, Python developers and infrastructure specialists seemed to dominate, today there is also a strong need for software engineers and DevOps specialists..
  • That said, everybody needs to be a software developer; there's value in understanding what development teams are doing, but you don't have to be a full-time coder to bring value to an operations team if you have the necessary skills in orchestration and coordination.
  • Jobs are really starting to transition away from how do you manage an operation and do so efficiently, as opposed to merely getting an infrastructure system up and running.

But you don't have to take my word for it. If you're interested in taking the next steps in your career, the full video is worth a watch. Clocking in at a little over half an hour, it's time well spent.

View the complete collection of articles from Careers in Open Source Week.

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Jason was an staff member and Red Hatter from 2013 to 2022. This profile contains his work-related articles from that time. Other contributions can be found on his personal account.

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